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Saint Mark’s Square: History and top things to do and see

Located in the heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Square is the largest and most important square in the city of Venice and, more generally, in Italy.

Located in the heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Square is the largest and most important square in the city of Venice and, more generally, in Italy.

A great witness of the city’s history, having housed the headquarters of the government, prisons, many tournaments and exhibitions, St. Mark’s Square is definitely a must-see when going to Venice.

History of Saint Mark’s Square

St. Mark’s square is one of the most prestigious piazzas in Italy but it wasn’t always as we see it today.

The square used to, in fact, be a pretty little space surrounded by trees, facing the original St. Mark’s Basilica. As the centuries went on, the square became one of the most popular gathering spots for locals which led to the need to enlarge it.

St. Mark’s Square was first paved in 1267 but, with the architect Andrea Tirali, it was later on repaved with natural stone, more precisely in 1735. Tirali also chose to make the square a bit more organized by designing specific locations where the stalls of merchants could be set.

Top things to see near the Square of Saint Mark’s

Since St. Mark’s Square is surrounded by some of the most important monuments and fun activities in Venice, it can be hard to lay down a program of things to do and see in just one day but fear not!

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We’re here to help with a list of the top things to see in St. Mark’s Square:

Visit the Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica surely is a core element of this majestic square and definitely one of the most beautiful churches in Italy.

This Basilica was commissioned in the XI century by Doge Domenico Contarini and it’s heavily influenced by Byzantine architecture. It is built in the shape of a Greek cross and it has five domes, one for each arm of the cross and the last one at the center.

The church is filled with many great details: mosaics that cover over 40.000 square feet, relics of St. Mark, and even four bronze horses that symbolize the power of the Venetian Republic.

Visit the Doge’s Palace
Another very important aspect of St. Mark’s square is the Doge’s Palace, one of the most stunning and complex architectural masterpieces that the city of Venice offers.

This building, accessible by entering through the Porta della Carta (Paper Gate), the grand entrance designed by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon adorned with many statues, is filled with great stuccoes and frescoes on the inside, among which you can find the biggest oil painting in the whole world: Tintoretto’s The Paradise.
What used to be the residence of the Doge of Venice during the Middle Age is now a stunning Palace that can luckily be visited!

Visit the National Archaeological Museum of Venice
If you enjoy art museums, visiting the National Archaeological Museum of Venice which happens to be one of the first ancient art museums that were created in Europe, is definitely a must.

This museum contains a great collection of Roman portraits, portraits of Emperors, amazing jewelry, vases and Greek sculptures. It’s the perfect way to get an idea of what life used to be like in Italy in a very short amount of time!

Enjoy a snack or a coffee
With the many hours of sightseeing and witnessing some of the greatest art and architecture in the world, we’re sure you must be tired.

What better way to pick yourself up than enjoying a coffee in one of St. Mark’s square’s many cafes? If you’re looking for some great history in your coffee, we highly suggest you go to Caffe Florian, the oldest cafe in Europe that opened in 1720!
The prices are of course not very cheap but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sip a coffee at the oldest cafe in Europe while having most of Venice’s architectural history right in front of your eyes!

CONCLUSION: So, with its incredible beauty, Venice’s St. Mark’s Square is definitely worth adding to the list of things to see when visiting this incredible city. Make sure to check out our blogs to get to know more about Venice and Italy in general and book a tour of Venice with us to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of this country!

30th Mar 2023